NJ: Giuliani Gave McCain the State
By Joby Warrick
For his convincing win in the New Jersey GOP primary, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) owes at least a nod to his ex-rival, Rudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor was a heavy favorite among his Republican neighbors in the Garden State, right up to the day he quit the race.
Then, almost on cue, virtually the entire GOP establishment jumped to the McCain camp.
"Ninety percent of the leadership came on board with John McCain within 24 to 48 hours," said Tom Wilson, chairmanof the New Jersey Republican Committee. "Obviously, the mayor's endorsement really paved the way and made it easy."
After publicly backing McCain, Giuliani even agreed to campaign on his behalf, appearing with the Arizona Republican at an election-eve rally on Monday and drawing even louder cheers, some observers said, than the star attraction.
Among the state's Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton's margin of victory came as something of a surprise, since both exit polling and recent opinion polls had forecast a tighter race. Judging from the heavy turnout -- with young voters flocking to the polls in exceptionally high numbers -- some party officials had been sensing an Obama upset in Clinton's back yard.
"A lot of people assumed that higher turnouts would go to Obama," said Richard McGrath, communications director for the state Democratic committee. "Obama certainly attracted new voters, but Clinton did as well."
The large turnout -- estimated at 30 percent of eligible voters, or three times 2004's result -- bodes well for the party's chances in the fall regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, he said.
"We're on course for possibly a million Democratic voters," he said.
Posted at 11:31 PM ET on Feb 5, 2008
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